One of the two men who was running a prostitution ring out of his home in Northern Virginia has been sentenced to over two years in prison in a federal district court on April 12, according to the Department of Justice.
Luis Bonilla-Hernandez, 33, who is illegally in the United States from El Salvador, pleaded guilty in connection with prostitution of five adult victims and to one count of interstate travel or transportation in aid of a racketeering enterprise in January this year.
Illegal alien sentenced to prison for sexually exploiting women in Northern Virginia. https://t.co/FhGT9deCX2
— U.S. Attorney EDVA (@EDVAnews) April 12, 2019
Prosecutors said in a statement that Bonilla-Hernandez and co-conspirator, Eliazar Duran Mota, 23, of Herndon, who also pleaded guilty to the same charges, took advantage of women who were Hispanic, spoke little-to-no English, and found themselves in a financially vulnerable position in the country.
— Reston Now (@RestonNow) January 22, 2019
Bonilla-Hernandez and Duran Mota would pick up a new victim each week from Union Station before transporting them around Northern Virginia to commercial sex customers while charging between $30 and $40 for each transaction. The victims were required to hand over all the money to the defendants, with only a portion of the proceeds returned to the women at the end of the week.
#ICYMI: Two men were convicted of running a prostitution business in NOVA. The case was investigated #FBIWFO‘’s Child Exploitation & #HumanTrafficking Task Force. #EndTrafficking https://t.co/Q6qS3GMriY pic.twitter.com/5nUNGsjIte
— FBI Washington Field (@FBIWFO) January 31, 2019
The victims told authorities that they endured verbal abuse and threats to their physical safety from customers.
During the investigation, police found evidence of prostitution and recovered over $14,000 in cash.
“Bonilla-Hernandez profited from the sexual exploitation of women who found themselves in difficult and vulnerable places,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.
“The tears, pain, and mental anguish expressed by the victims, in this case, is heartbreaking. Additionally, this case is yet another example of an individual who is here in the United States illegally and committing serious crimes. Human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of individuals remains a priority of this office and we will continue to investigate and prosecute these serious crimes that inflict mental, emotional, and physical harm on the victims involved,” he added.
Duran Mota will be sentenced on April 19, according to the Eastern District of Virginia court schedule.
According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline reported calls data, there were 3,718 potential cases of sex trafficking reported in 2018.
Moreover, in the same year, the government initiated 171 criminal human trafficking cases in federal courts where 95 percent of them were sex trafficking cases, according to the 2018 Federal Human Trafficking Report.